Voxelab Aquila 3D Printer Lessons


I'm very new to 3d printing. My son got a 3d printer for Christmas and it has been a real pain setting up. The assembly wasn't too bad, although I screwed up multiple times in big ways that doubled the time, we still got it right and all appeared fine from the start. Once we got through the assembly, the real problems began. I was having trouble loading the filament, then the filament was erroring saying it couldn't be detected, then we tried adjusting the height of the bed only to scratch it multiple times - like I said it was a real pain.

Well, let's hope this article will help you out a bit and I can help you alleviate those issues. First off, we have a Voxelab Aquila, so your mileage may vary with some of my suggestions, but most should be able to relate to their own model. Second, I'm only giving my experience and tips, so make changes at your own risk. Now that that's out of the way, let's get to it.

1. It's not loading the filament

I was trying to shove the filament into the printer and that sucker was not having it. Well, in the settings, there is an option to load filament, select it, and the gears should start turning and you can feed the filament into them and they will pull it through into the stepper motor and out through the nozzle.

2. The filament is in there, but it says it's not detected

This drove me nuts. It came up with an error as soon as we tried to print and would not go any further. Well, in the settings, there is an option to enable or disable filament detection... disable that sucker and you'll be fine. There is a sensor that is supposed to be able to tell when filament has been loaded into the motor, but our sensor was not working correctly. Disabling it fixed the issue.

3. Adjust the bed properly

When we finally got to printing, we ran into some issues with the prints and videos online suggested adjusting the bed, so I did and tried to get the nozzle real close to the bed. In reality, you just need to move it to each corner and slide a paper underneath it until the nozzle starts touching the paper. Don't go further than tha otherwise you may scratch the bed. Then go to the next corner and do the same, adjusting all corners. Once they're all adjusted, you can then start printing, but you will still want to make sure the nozzle is close enough, which brings me to the next issue I ran into.

4. It prints, but it doesn't stick to the bed

We printed a ton of prints and several minutes into it the print would start coming off the bed and then the filament would get jammed up in the nozzle and it would stop printing. There are several steps I had to go through to get this resolved and without it, I could not print a single print. First, make sure you adjusted the bed properly. Second, make sure the nozzle and bed temperature are hot enough. I adjusted my nozzle to be around 220 degrees fahrenheit and eventually lowered it to 200 degrees. The bed was set to be around 100 degrees. It's important to have the bed heated to make sure it sticks.

Third, adjust the nozzle z offset. When you're adjusting the bed height it's real hard to get it close enough without scratching the bed. This is where the offset comes in. There is a setting when you start printing to adjust the z offset. You want to have the nozzle close enough to the bed when it starts so that when the filament comes out and hits the bed it will create an oval shape since it will be pressed between the nozzle and the bed. In my case, a -0.5 was just the right amount.

5. Ok, I got it printing the samples, now what?

Once you print the samples and have it working, now comes the fun part. There are thousands of sample prints online that are free to download and use to print. You just have to find them. I have listed below, useful sites and Thingiverse is one of them. They have tons of 3d prints available to download and they're free. In order to convert them from the stl files to the format needed to print (gcode) you need to use Cura (or an equivalent) that will open the file, then you need to "slice" the print in the sofware, and then finally you can save it to your external drive.

Other Issues?

Most definitely searching (DuckDuckGo) is your best bet. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources available with plenty of others running into the same issues that can hopefully help. In my case, I found the YouTube videos the most helpful. Hopefully this article helped you out. If it did, please follow me on Twitter (@bradgermain) for more posts like this in the future. Best of luck and happy printing!

Useful Sites

Thingiverse: 3D prints you can use

Cura application to slice and save print in a format so it can be printed

Instructions on getting the Voxelab Aquila printer setup with the correct values in Cura

Tinkercad: Free Autodesk application where you can make your own prints

Helpful YouTube channel for 3d printing